Something to Prove

The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio

  • Interest Level: Grade 2 - Grade 5
  • Reading Level: Grade 3

In 1936, the New York Yankees wanted to test a hot prospect named Joe DiMaggio to see if he was ready for the big leagues. They knew just the ballplayer to call—Satchel Paige, the best pitcher anywhere, black or white. For the game, Paige joined a group of amateur African American players, and they faced off against a team of white major leaguers plus young DiMaggio. The odds were stacked against the less-experienced black team. But Paige’s skillful batting and amazing pitching—with his “trouble ball” and “bat dodger”— kept the game close. Would the rookie DiMaggio prove himself as major league player? Or would Paige once again prove his greatness—and the injustice of segregated baseball?

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Interest Level Grade 2 - Grade 5
Reading Level Grade 3
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Category Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity, Sports
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 5.3
Text Type Narrative Nonfiction
BISACS JNF054010, JNF018010, JNF025210
Dewey 796.3570922
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Lexile 800
ATOS Reading Level 4.5
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 156780
Accelerated Reader® Points 0.5
Features Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Starred Reviews, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Rob Skead

Robert Skead is the author of several popular children's books. When he is not at work or crafting stories, Robert can often be found at schools speaking with children and adults about creative writing and the importance of discovering one's talent for a fulfilled life. Through these author visits, Robert speaks to more than 5,000 students per year. Robert lives with his wife and children in New Jersey. For more information about his school author visits and writing workshops, visit

Illustrator: Floyd Cooper

Floyd Cooper (1956-2021) was a Coretta Scott King Award winner and illustrator of numerous books for children including Ruth and the Green Book, A Spy Called James, and Max and the Tag-Along Moon. Unspeakable, one of his final picture books, was a National Book Award longlist title, a Sibert Honor book, and a Caldecott Honor book. He received a degree in fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and went on to develop a distinctive art technique called oil erasure.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!

Something to Prove

In 1936, the New York Yankees wanted to test a hot prospect named Joe DiMaggio to see if he was ready for the big leagues. They knew just the ballplayer to call—Satchel Paige, the best pitcher anywhere, black or white. For the game, Paige joined a group of amateur African American… View available downloads →


  • Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) Choices, Winner, 2014


School Library Monthly

Skead, Robert. Something to Prove: The Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio

In 1936, the New York Yankees asked Negro Leagues pitcher Satchel Paige to test a rookie player, Joe DiMaggio. The contest, which resulted in DiMaggio being brought up to the majors, demonstrated Paige’s consummate skill and the underlying unfairness of separate Negro Leagues.

Library Media Connection

“Each page builds anticipation as Skead leads readers through an exciting afternoon of baseball using vivid adjectives and descriptive language while also addressing some of the nation’s more troubling history.” —Library Media Connection

Kirkus Reviews

“Cooper’s soft-edged brown, amber and green illustrations lovingly depict the action and emotions called forth in the text. A loving tribute to Satchel Paige, who never looked back in anger.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal

“The author builds suspense with dazzling descriptions of Paige’s ‘wobbly ball’ and ‘windmill wind-up’ that even nonbaseball fans will appreciate….[T]he action-filled poses are consistently dramatic, and the portraiture is outstanding. Use this memorable title for fans of the game, for Black History month, or for any discussion on segregated life in the United States.” —School Library Journal

The Horn Book Magazine

“Skead effectively uses a little-known baseball episode to portray larger issues of race and justice in America, while superbly developing the game’s tension inning by inning. Grainy brown-toned illustrations nicely evoke the dreamy reminiscences of baseball legend, and frequent changes of perspective keep the story from becoming static. An engaging look at two baseball greats who eventually made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Publishers Weekly

“Cooper’s grainy illustrations look as though they are filtered through sunlight, striking a nostalgic chord, while Skead’s play-by-play… provides a riveting, baseball story about two players seeking recognition of their worth.” —Publishers Weekly


“[T]his centers on a fascinating event, one that points up the racial injustice at the time; at the same time, it makes readers care about both players, and may leave kids wanting to learn more about Paige, DiMaggio, the Negro Leagues, and the integration of baseball.” —Booklist